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UPDATE: Plan in place to fix constant sewage overflows in Bessemer area

Published: Feb. 24, 2020 at 6:39 PM CST
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BESSEMER, Ala. (WBRC) - Jefferson County leaders are working to upgrade the old sewer system in the Bessemer area after residents reached out to us complaining about sewage spilling into their neighborhoods. The county is praying for dry weather so it can get to work on the plan to fix the overflows.

A manhole cover on Berkley Avenue near 33rd Street in Bessemer can’t hold all the sewer water because of recent heavy rains. Sewage is spilling into the nearby neighborhood. The community says it’s been happening on and off for years.

"This community should not have to suffer with the filth and the stench and the unsanitary conditions that sewers will produce,” Pastor Victor Harkins a resident said.

"This in Berkley Avenue has always been a problem. This is a plan to fix it,” Tony Petelos, Jefferson County’s Manager said.

County Manager Tony Petelos says there’s a five-year, $50 million dollar plan in place to try and fix all the problems with the sewer system in that area. There are three phases. Phase one is already complete and corrected some of the problems according to Petelos. He says upgrading the old sewer system takes time and money.

"Once we have that, it will solve the problem but let me say this, there’s no a sewer system in the United States that when you have a lot of rain that is going to handle all that. We will have overflows,” Petelos said.

Petelos understands the community’s concerns and says the county is working on them.

“We feel comfortable about our plan. Unfortunately, these are major construction projects replacing pipe and some of those pipes are 42-inches in diameter and its very, very expensive,” Petelos said. “Unfortunately, it is what it is and we’re doing what we can do.”

Petelos says the county can’t bolt the manhole covers down because all that sewer water could backup in people’s homes and cause more problems.

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